What is a four-letter word that ends in “k” and has to do with sex? No, not “luck” or “lick” or “suck.” It’s “talk.” Talking about sex, safer sex, and condoms adds to intimacy, safety, and relaxation. We know it may not be easy at first. You may initially feel embarrassed or uncomfortable talking with your partner about sex and using condoms – many people do. Yet, talking about condoms and sex is important. If you are too embarrassed to talk about safer sex with your partner, you may not be ready to have sex with this person (something to think about).

Student sexual health advocates wrote this to answer some of your questions about condoms and safer sex: how to talk about it, how to make condoms sexy, and other tips on adding condoms to your sex life. Because safer sex equals great sex.

What are rubbers, raincoats, jimmies, etc?

A condom is a latex or polyurethane sheath that fits over the erect penis (or sex toy) and acts as a barrier to decrease the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and semen during sex (vaginal, anal, oral). Condoms come in a variety of styles and colors. They can be lubricated or non-lubricated, straight-sided or tapered. Some have a reservoir tip to catch the semen and some are even flavored (good for oral sex).

How do I get it on?

Use a new condom every time you have intercourse. If the condom does not have a reservoir tip, leave about one-half inch at the end. Gently squeeze out any air. Unroll the condom over the erect penis (or sex toy) down to its base. If you or your partner is male and not circumcised, pull back the foreskin before putting on the condom. Smooth out any air bubbles or wrinkles. You may want to add a WATER-BASED lubricant to the outside of the condom (and inside for more sensation). Try K-Y jelly, other water-based lubricants, such as Glide or Wet , or silicone-based lubricant (both available in the Rutgers Pharmacy). After sex, hold the base of the condom and pull out before the penis gets soft. Remove the condom carefully (away from your partner’s body) and avoid spilling any semen. Throw away the condom in the trash (not the toilet).

But does it work?

When used correctly and consistently, a condom is 97% effective as a method of birth control. Condoms are also highly effective against the spread of STIs. Latex and polyurethane condoms provide an effective barrier against the transmission of most viruses and bacteria, reducing the risk for STIs. Condoms are less helpful against HPV and herpes, and more helpful against HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.

Female condoms are also an effective in protecting against STIs and an unintended pregnancy.

Why Bother?

  • They help decrease the spread of STIs, including HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and herpes.
  • Condoms are the only non-permanent forms of male contraception.
  • They are affordable and easy to get at the Rutgers Pharmacy (over 20 varieties available at great prices), bookstore, or convenience store, or at a local drugstore.
  • They are safe – they present no health hazards and have no medical side effects (unless you or your partner has a latex allergy, than use polyurethane condoms).
  • You can involve your partner in putting it on – make it fun, hot, erotic. Laugh – a lot!
  • Condoms can help an erection last longer.

Talking about condoms

Just a few ideas to make this process a bit less stressful…

  • Choose a time to talk with your partner before having sex – not when you are both naked. Choose a time when you are both free of distractions.
  • Use “I” statements: talk about what you are thinking and feeling. No one is a mind reader. You are talking about condoms and safer sex because you want to. Try phrases like “I would feel more comfortable using condoms when we have sex” or “Using a condom will make me feel more relaxed and I’ll enjoy sex more,” or however you are feeling.
  • Practice! Practice what you will say to your partner out loud, in front of a mirror or with a trusted friend. Whatever works for you. Say what you feel and what is important to you. Some students find it helpful to write it down to help remember.
  • Stick by your decision; stand by your word. If your partner tries to persuade you not to use condoms, do they have your best interests at heart? Respond with statements such as “I don’t have to prove anything to you by having unprotected sex” or “We can have hot sex with condoms, let me show you how!”

Speaking of condoms and Hot Sex...

Incorporating condoms into sex can hot, fun, and sexy without ruining the mood. Be creative and experiment!

  • Talk about what your partner likes and dislikes. How does he or she like to be touched?
  • You can put the condom on your using your hands or mouth. You can stroke your partner’s penis to full erection, lubricating it really well, and slip on the condom. Or you can use your mouth by placing the condom inside your lips and smoothing it down carefully with your mouth – this takes practice but think about much fun you’ll both have trying!
  • Experiment with different types of condoms – sizes, colors, shapes and textures. Try condoms that are extra-sensitive, ribbed, and have bumps. Flavored condoms can add to oral sex.
  • Signals: have condoms available and visible. Give your partner a small card saying you want to make love and attach a condom.


  • If you or your partner is male, always use a condom during any kind of intercourse – vaginal, anal or oral.
  • Even when you use another form of birth control, use a condom to decrease the spread of STIs, and to increase protection against an unintended pregnancy.
  • Store condoms in a cool, dry place (not a wallet or glove compartment). Check the expiration date (not to be confused with the date of manufacture).
  • Remember, the choice to have or not have sex is up to you.
  • Condoms only work if you use them.

A Word about HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS is real, and still here, even here at school. If you are engaging in sexual intercourse, use condoms each time you have sex – anal, oral, and vaginal. For sexually active people, condoms provide the only protection against HIV. Want to learn more about HIV/AIDS? Click here.

Confidential HIV testing is available at all RHS Health Centers by appointment. Come to a monthly HIV testing Clinic – FREE, rapid-result oral testing. You will have your results in 20 minutes! Free, anonymous HIV testing is available at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, 732-235-7114 and the Chandler Community Health Center in New Brunswick, 732-235-6700.

A great variety of condoms and other safer sex products at amazing prices are available at the Rutgers Pharmacy, in all Rutgers Health Centers:
Hurtado Health Center, 11 Bishop Place, College Avenue Campus
Busch Livingston Health Center, 110 Hospital Rd, Livingston Campus
Cook Douglass Health Center, 61 Dudley Rd, Cook/Douglass Campus

Condom broke?

You have 120 hours after intercourse to obtain Emergency Contraception (the earlier, the better). It is available at any Rutgers Pharmacy over-the-counter for people 17 years old and older. Women younger than 17 must obtain a prescription.


Call Rutgers Health Services at 848-932-7402 for an appointment or to speak with a health care provider.